A key position utility, 1.93m (6 ft 4 in) tall and weighing 92 kilograms (200 lb), Hurley predominately played in the forward and backline in his AFL career to date.
Hurley made his AFL debut in 2009, winning the AFL Rising Star nomination in round 20, but played only nine regular season matches because of a quad strain and broken wrist.
In round 22, nine matches into his career, Hurley scored four goals, in a match-winning performance against Hawthorn. In the following week, former Brisbane Lions coach Leigh Matthews said, "Very few young talls have the physical maturity to match it with their older and stronger opponents, which is why the brilliant early form of young Bomber Michael Hurley is quite amazing."
On 25 September 2009 Hurley was arrested after a drunken altercation with a taxi driver, after the driver demanded payment for the fare when Hurley asked him to stop at a fast food drivethrough. Hurley was later charged with multiple counts of assault; it is alleged that he punched the driver and kicked him in the groin.
As of season 2010, Hurley has inherited the No.18 jumper left vacant by the retired Matthew Lloyd.
On the 22nd March 2012, Michael Hurley re-committed to the Essendon Football club until 2017 after agreeing to a new 5-year deal.